If you could hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self? What are the biggest lessons learnt since you started entrepreneurship? This is one of our favorite questions here at CBNation.
Here’s what CEOs would tell their younger business selves.
#1- Always be willing to adapt to change
At the beginning of my career I was hesitant to take opportunities where the vision for my career path would need to be adapted, or preconceived ideas challenged. Once I learned to take risks, adapt to the everchanging business landscape and seek new opportunities to learn, this is where I began to see success in my career. Taking calculated risks and being open to new opportunities, leads to self-discovery and self-confidence.
Thanks to Clint Robinson, Go Switch!
#2- Do it sooner
If I could go back to my younger self, I would tell him about the success we have had working for ourselves, and tell him to do it sooner. While I was mostly happy in the jobs I had in my younger years, ultimately I always wanted to work for myself, and it took me ages to pluck up the courage to do so. It is a hard leap to do, but once you have made it you are able to have so much freedom and it really does feel freeing to be your own boss. While this is not very inspirational to say to my younger self, I think I needed a boost to be able to be more confident in what I could do, so this would be just the pep talk I needed.
Thanks to Thomas Fultz, Coffeeble!
Don't worry so much about the things you cannot control. Focus on what you can and surround yourself with people you can be honest with about the status of your business. Starting and building a business is and will be hard and you don't have to figure it all out by yourself. Be willing to ask for help and remember you do not need to have all the answers. You won't. You'll figure it out as you go and the people you surround yourself with will support you along the way.
Thanks to Mary Lemmer, Improve Studios, LLC!
#4- Appreciating the importance of sustainability
Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Whilst being able to boast about a long string of all-nighters, or the 25-hour workdays you pull may seem like a badge of honor, they are actually evidence of an inability to create a healthy, viable and sustainable business operation. At some point, you’ll need to graduate your thinking about work from something that sits alongside your life, to something that sits within it. You’ll gain benefits from maintaining social connections and non-work pleasures that you simply can’t get from running—even succeeding in—your business; no matter how passionate you are about whatever it is you do. The flow-on effects of these positive vibes will feed the resilience you need to carry you through the tough times and build the business you inevitably want to build. Extremes are easy. Work towards balance.
Thanks to Evian Gutman, Ringcommend!
#5- Believe in my ability to succeed
I think we’ve all suffered from imposter syndrome at one time or another, and when I was first starting my entrepreneurship journey, I suffered from a massive case of self-doubt. I would reject business opportunities because I didn’t think I could handle them, and that fear was stopping me from reaching my full potential. It was through advice from my mentors and a supportive network of peers that I finally learned how to invest in myself and trust my instincts, and that has made all the difference. I wish I could tell my younger self to take every opportunity afforded to him because he could have handled it. But at the same time, I’m glad I was able to experience that period of personal growth.
Thanks to Bill Glaser, Outstanding Foods!
#6- Life is a marathon and not a sprint
The best piece of advice that I could give to my younger self is that life is called a “rat race,” but remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. If you complete a goal or a milestone quickly, it might be worth it in the short term. However, you’ll get tired quickly and might not have the endurance for the long haul. I have learned this through my work, but also while training for triathlons and marathons.
Thanks to Glen Levine, Anidjar & Levine!
#7- Plan for short-term goals
What I would tell my younger self if I could hop into a time machine is to remove your attention from worrying about today and look into the future. Instead of letting stress and nerves take over, start thinking and planning for the next 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year from now. Planning for the short-term goals will keep you motivated. Don't forget to celebrate and acknowledge all your achievements along the way. Celebration and acknowledgment are what will make you motivated to continue and move forward until you achieve the goals and results you are looking for.
Thanks to Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, Dr. Brite, LLC!
#8- Don't be afraid of risks
If I could hop into a time machine, I would tell my younger self that being afraid of taking risks will only hold myself back from opportunities for growth. It's all too easy to become complacent in your comfort zone and shy away from situations where you can't fully ascertain the outcome, but that's no way to progress. Failure helps you learn lessons playing it safe can never teach you.
Thanks to Kevin Miller, GR0!
#9- You can't let complacency creep in
I would definitely tell myself that, to succeed, you can't let complacency creep in. From what we've learned from the ever-changing business environment that has quickly become commonplace, taking calculated risks are a necessity if you want to provide creative, modern solutions to those nagging, returning problems. Plus, a calculated risk is just that – calculated. As long as you provide research and data, then what started off as a risk has now become a pivot, or a step toward innovation. Never be afraid to make a change, even if it seems a little risky, to increase your business growth.
Thanks to Greg Gillman, MuteSix!
#10- Explore your passion
If I could give my younger business self a piece of advice, I would tell her to explore her passion and turn it into a business. Work-life balance is possible if you invest in your dreams. You have an opportunity to live the best version of yourself at any point in your life. All you need to do is to believe in yourself. That's a classic life hack.
Thanks to Sandra Henderson, LifeHacks!
#11- Don't be too hard on yourself
Do not be so hard on yourself. You are going to be okay. Life is not always going to go your way, but do not get down on yourself. Love yourself and pat yourself on back. Love yourself would be the most important advice I could myself. If you can do that, you will be okay. I was hard on myself when I was younger, and you have to give yourself a break.
Thanks to Matt Carter, Aryaka!
#12- Two nuggets
Without disrupting the space-time continuum, telling my younger self about preparing to deal with a once-in-a-century global pandemic, I would instead tell my younger self two pieces of advice. Viola Davis says with each decision you make, you either claim who you are, or you choose to chase your worth for the rest of your life? Identify the difference between making decisions to gain external validation and making decisions for yourself. Within reason, try to make as many decisions with you and your business as the priority over being a people pleaser. The second piece of advice is to get comfortable with failure by taking a risk a day. I'd remind my younger self that the most successful people are the people willing to experiment and fail more than everyone else. Striving for perfection is rooted in shame. Experimentation is driven by curiosity, creativity, and play. That is the play-oriented mindset you want to adopt as you grow your business. This will not only help you be more successful, but you'll enjoy the journey even more by being more present.
Thanks to Jeff Harry, Rediscover Your Play!
#13- Establish a better morning routine!
If I am not able to complete a proper morning routine, I find myself not being able to focus as much and therefore not accomplish what I intended to that day. I start the day by waking up, brushing my teeth right away to help wake up. I then drink a full glass of cold water (another item to help wake myself up). Once I no longer want to crawl back into bed I can finally start the items which help prepare my mind for the day. I start with 10 minutes of quiet meditation, followed by 15-20 minutes of yoga. My mind and body are now awake and the blood is flowing, so I then journal for 10 minutes. This helps me stay focused on my goals and make sure I know what my top 20% of priorities are in order to reach the dreams we want. The last step is to read a business or self-awareness book for 15-20 minutes.
Thanks to Vishal Gupta, We Buy Houses In The Triangle, LLC!
#14- You are already enough
This tip isn’t just for my younger business-self, it’s also something I remind myself of regularly as it’s so important but so easy to forget. It’s this: You are already enough! There is always more we can do, and more to learn in business. It’s the personal and professional growth that’s part of the fun! But in chasing the next thing we can lose sight of who are really are and all the ways we are already brilliant. It’s showing up as our best- and most authentic-self TODAY that drives our business success and attracts great clients. So while your best-self will of course be better tomorrow (if you’re doing things right), who you are today is already enough. So embrace that and have fun.
Thanks to Melitta Campbell
#15- Take many small bets
Given the choice between taking one big bet vs. many small bets, choose the latter. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Especially when it comes to business, you don't need all of your business ventures to succeed. As long as you identify low-risk, high upside business opportunities, you don't need every single opportunity to work out. Whether it be an investment decision, a business partnership, or any other major business decision, ultimately you need the freedom and flexibility to experiment and fail gracefully rather than trying to succeed at everything.
Thanks to Sunny Ashley, Revy Solutions!
#16- Expect less and have a backup plan
The advice for my younger self as an entrepreneur is to always have the mind clear of all the unachievable targets and to always have a backup plan when starting a business. When I started my business about 7 years ago, I had a lot of expectations from it because of the way people had portrayed a picture of this startup before me. I totally relied on it and started pumping all my money in it without considering the risk of loss, and I didn’t have any backup to re-establish the business in case of failure. This cost me a lot of money and time and I had to start all over again with a well-drafted plan. So, I would tell myself to start off slow with little expectations and have backup to help the business.
Thanks to Julien Raby, Thermogears!
#17- Pay attention to the school lectures
If I could hop into a time machine, I will tell my younger business self to pay attention to all the lectures that they give in school because they might seem like just theories at that time but they will all make sense when you are already running your own business. When you are already running your business you need every bit of information there is, so you better pay attention when it is being given to you. Not everyone is given the opportunity to be able to study, which is why you should make the most out of it.
Thanks to Martynas Kavaliauskas, TrackingFox!
#18- Think for an hour before responding
The advice I would give a younger version of myself is to always think for an hour before responding to anything significant. If it's really significant, sleep on it. Nothing needs to be done right away. Things can wait, and with a clearer mind, you'll have a better outcome.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!
#19- A number of things
Don't ignore the fact that what your younger self wanted from leadership is what you need to provide when you are eventually in a leadership position. Early on, I would identify things that I didn't like coming from the top down, without thinking through what I would do differently or asking the question as to why the decision was made. If you don't like the way something is done, ask non-confrontational questions to find out why it was done that way. You may be surprised with your new understanding. If you still disagree, think of how you would improve it before taking any action. One day, you'll minimize your ego and wish that your team handled it this same way, plus, you'll be a better leader for listening to those that the decision impacts most.
Thanks to Justin Levitch, RLAH Real Estate!
#20- Make sure you choose alliances carefully
Not everyone that wants to do business with you is someone worth you giving them your time. Some will take advantage of you. Some will guide you away from your central focus. Some will be a pain to work with. Pick customers and business associates that value what you’re doing, what contribution you can give to them, and help motivate you to do better things as you also motivate them.
Thanks to Bryan Philips, In Motion Marketing!
#21- Think outside of the box
I was able to start my accessory businesses because I saw opportunities in the jewelry business that other people weren’t taking advantage of—whether that’s creating luxury accessories for men or cutting out the middle-man and offering fine jewelry with transparent prices direct-to-consumer. Playing it safe is appealing because it seems to be a proven road to success, but there is no proven road to success. Innovation comes from looking around you and noticing what other people have overlooked.
Thanks to Yuvi Alpert, Noémie!
#22- Don't get bogged down by perfection
I would discuss the importance of not getting bogged down by perfection. I would tell my younger business self: if you have an idea for a company, go ahead and create a website that promotes it. Don’t fret over everything being perfect–just forge ahead and launch your idea, then see what feedback comes in. There will most likely be negative feedback, but don’t take it personally; use it to learn and improve your business. If you do this every day, you will have a growing company within a year or two.
Thanks to Ray Blakney, Live Lingua!
#23- Focus on the power of positive habits and time management
Those two elements are so fundamental to success in both business and personal happiness. When you are able to root yourself in positive habits and manage time well enough to be happy in your personal life, your business thrives. Similarly, when you can use your business time effectively and efficiently, your personal happiness will flourish. These two facets of life are akin to the concept of yin and yang – they are interdependent and connected. You must balance your habits and your time in order to succeed in both endeavors.
Thanks to Benjamin Farber, Bristol Associates, Inc.!
#24- Seize the opportunities
One thing I would tell my younger business self is to never let go of a standing opportunity just because you thought it’s too early or that you will get it again. You most definitely will, but letting go of one might mean you will also lose on something good. Any opportunity you take up will always result in you learning something new. And that will prepare you for the better that is coming.
Thanks to Christian Velitchkov, Twiz LLC!